April 12th, 2008
05:07 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: If I offended, I deeply regret that

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/12/art.bo04122nd.ap.jpg caption="In an interview with a North Carolina paper Saturday, Sen. Obama tried to quell the controversy around his recent remarks."]
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Barack Obama said Saturday that if he has offended people with comments he made almost a week ago where he labeled small town Pennsylvanians "bitter" and that they "cling to guns and religion" then he regrets it.

"Obviously, if I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that," Obama said in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal, according to a transcript provided by his campaign.

"The underlying truth of what I said remains, which is simply that people who have seen their way of life upended because of economic distress are frustrated and rightfully so," he told the North Carolina newspaper. "And I hear it all the time when I visit these communities."

Earlier in the day, Obama told an audience at a town hall meeting in Muncie, Indiana that he didn't word his comments "as well as he should have," but did not go as far as using the word "regret."

Obama first made the comments Sunday at a closed-press fundraiser in San Francisco.

Update with statement from McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds:

“Voters will reject his so-called truths that he still stands by. His remarks were false. The importance of our Second Amendment and our country’s longstanding history with faith and spirituality are born in history, not bitterness and frustration. His view is absolutely restricted by elitism.”

- CNN Political Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Venus

    Thanks for manning-up to that Obama! Un-like Hillary who blames every one for her mistakes! Now – can we get to the part about small towns losing their jobs! How many jobs have the Clintons paid to trade?

    April 12, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. Jackson

    why are there so many "white" people in this picture looking at him? Did they send the latinos, asians and blacks to the back again??

    April 12, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. JH

    IF you offended anyone? Oh, honey, you insulted millions.

    April 12, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. GiveMeABreak

    I don't think Obama needed to apologize! This "controversy" is simply political spin coming from a failing campaign that wants to draw attention away from Bosnia comments and Penn. The truth is that many Americans are bitter! I know I am bitter. I am bitter that nobody in this administration is listening. I am bitter that some politicians think Americans are happy and are not hurting. We ARE hurting, we ARE fed up, we ARE bitter, and we ARE annoyed that when a meaningful discussion should be taking place about failed republican policies and John McCains desire to continue them, we are stuck debating the semantics of the word "bitter". Give me a break.

    April 12, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Charles

    Black, Black, Black....what is the deal? Blacks are about 13% of the US Population. That is less than Hispanics. I'm sick of hearing about them. Please, talk about something else!!

    April 12, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |

    Let's clarify something here. It is not the fact that he described the people as bitter, that in itself maybe fairly accurate for some Americans. It was the rest of the statement about the guns and religion that actually make it noteworthy.

    Would I describe the comments as "out of touch?" Perhaps, but what I really hear is someone who cannot relate to the people of Penn. or Indiana or Kentucky for that matter and described them to rich people in California ina condescending way. It even has a hint of racism.

    You can take Obama out of Trinity church but you cannot take the teachings of the Trinity out of Obama.

    April 12, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. Bill - Charlotte

    But Evan... he just misspoke. He was "exhausted."

    PS: Gas $4.00 a gallon; my home value decreased 10%; my IRA lost 25%; the war in Iraq is tragic... yes I am bitter.

    All we get from Clinto/McCain is war stories and her case she made hers up.

    April 12, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. dave

    Asked if there was some truth to Obama’s remarks, made at a San Francisco fundraiser last Sunday, Bayh acknowledged there is “frustration and some justifiable anger” in America because of economic hard times – so does he agree there is truth in this statement.

    He wants superdelegates to consider Obama's statements, which is OK. Then, Superdelegates should also consider that clinton lied about the bosna sniper fire. That is a serious issue considering that people want to know that they electing a leader who is honest to herself and the people. Clinton lied about the bosna's sniper and raises a lot of credibility issues regarding her approach to leadership. I was a supporter of clinton but changed becuase of this issue.

    April 12, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. Dan

    I am not sure that you have offended people who desperately need change for their live. People who are attacking you just do not like you, and they have unfairly found something to attack you.
    Do not worry, keeping with the true, which makes you exceptional.

    April 12, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. MD

    I don't think this statement really offended some Americans the way Hillary and the press said it did. She (Hillary) simply needs a way to get her numbers up in the polls and attention off Penn, NAFTA, Bosnia, and Bill bringing the Bosnia incident back into the news.

    As for McCain, I think he should just stick with learning about how our economy works. The only thing he knows best is how to strategically begin a war with Iran.

    April 12, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. Bibs

    If we forgive Obama for this then we should also forgive Hillary also.

    April 12, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. John

    It's a shame that anyone who speaks the truth is labeled as an elitist. People are bitter. We don't trust the government that Clinton and McCain helped define over the past two or three decades.

    I think Obama should stick to his guns. People ARE voting on religion, gun control, imigration, and yes, race, for one reason, that the government has positively failed to address the economy and has given away our standard of living to China, et. al.

    Bill Clinton was at the table long enough to create NAFTA. NAFTA hurt the U.S. , period. Hillary was right there with him.

    I'm grateful there is at least one candidate who understands how frustrating it is to lose your good job in construction to a poor economy, retrain for a new IT industry, and then watch all those jobs go to India. Bitter? Darned right I'm bitter! I'm getting to old to retrain again and I don't even know what to retrain for.

    We need our jobs back.

    April 12, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. SUE, Michigan

    Isn't this a bit nit-picky? Kind of like what the media does to Hillary at every speech. If the media would just report what the candidates SAY and not analyze it for us, we'd be better off. I'm not sure the Pennsylvanians were upset until the press told them they were.

    April 12, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |

    Bye, bye, Nobama!!! We DO NOT need you in America!!!

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. mike g

    Boy, does this stuff have a lot to do with how Obama or anyone will run this country. Message to the media: wake us up when you cover the nominees plans on fixing the economy and these gas issues for more than a day. Almost 4 bucks a gallon and now we have to hear about this garbage for how long this time......a week or 2. Or better yet, will there be another expert media forum to super analyze this crap? I'd bet my dinner on it. Miss ya Peter Jennings.

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. dave

    Mccain campaigns needs to relax and get off their high horse. Mccain-Kennedy bill would have had far reading ramifications on our economy for the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Mccain Obviously does not know who is tyraining who in Iraq and the Mccain_feingold bill would have restricted what is said onm Talk radio, a direct violation of our FIRST ADMENDMENT RIGHTS OF FREE SPEECH.
    That's the best that the Repugs have? This year should be easy once Hillary stops dividing the democrats.

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Rob A.

    Hilarious response from the McCain compound. Elitist? Obama? McCain married a woman worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Sad when your candidate cannot stand on his own issues.

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. henry

    Mccain is a warmonger who doesn't remember things and should be excused of his age. Come monday he won't remember the flare..

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Key West Sun

    Obama is the most arrogant elitist fool I have ever seen. He has clarified his comment 2 times and makes himself look worse each time. The fool didn’t even try to clarify the right thing the first time. Then the second time his staff had to clarify his clarification.
    I don’t think him or his staff had a clue as to what he had said wrong. It is bad when the other candidates and the news have to point out the stupid remark you made and then have to lead you by the hand and explain it to you.
    You really think this man need to be the leader of the free world, he has had to many mistakes in to short of a time to let him go any further. Hillary is no saint by far, but her record is “good and bad” is known by everyone. Obama has too much wrong in to short a time to be trusted with the white house.
    We need a leader not an idol in the oval office. Obama has shown time and time again that he is not a leader, his last shot was with the Olympics and he skated the question till Hillary came forth. LOL when the phone rings at 3 AM, guess he will have to put them on hold and call Hillary on the other line for the answer.

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  20. Brian


    With almost 30 years in the bank with the Republicans and the Bush Family and the Democratic Clintons. I have mounting debt and nothing to show for it in 30 years.


    Now I have to sit and listen to the Clinton and MCCain campaigns tell me I should be positive and resilient. "Give us another 4 to 8 years to continue trying."

    Well I'm done give you time. Stop will the sugar coating and the politcally correct respons. Barack Obama stood before people and stated what is fact. It's unfortunate, many of us feel this way. But it is fact. Are ther PA residents that don't feel this way, Sure. But there are many that do. He stated a fact. Case Close.

    Much like Jack Nicholson said, "Some can't handle the truth."

    Perhaps Johnny Mac and Hillary should rent the movie. OR better yet The American President. with Michael Douglas. Barack Obama. He is to be the next American President

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. Sebastian

    Once every 40 years or so, America has the chance to select a leader that will fundamentally move the nation in the right direction.

    Obama is that leader.

    His willingness to point out the 'pink elephant" in the room that is in the minds of "Reagan Democrats" and other hardworking people is what distinguishes him.

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. Deirdre

    Come on people! Let's stop focusing on one word, and instead look at the real villains here - the corporations that put bottom line profit above all else, and trashed these communities by shipping the jobs overseas!

    April 12, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  23. David

    I think it is elitist of McCain and Clinton to ignore the fact that so many Americans are fed up with Washington. The way they have tried to twist these remarks are disgusting and the way they are trying to drown out the voices of so many Americans is even more so.

    April 12, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Sergey

    Hopefully it will not hurt Obama. I believe he had nothing bad on his mind.
    It would be so sad to have Hillary -and her lies and lies. Actually 2 lies from Hillary & Bill.
    It would be absolutely terrible to have as a President – John McBush.
    Go for Obama.


    April 12, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Steve

    What did he actually say, and what is the context of it ?

    April 12, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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